Landscaping and Retaining Walls

In this months article I have not answered any readers building queries but instead have decided tell you about an alarming experience that I have had over the last few days.


It all started when an existing client in the Valley rang to say that she had cracks appearing in her boundary wall, not an unusual statement you may say in Spain, but then she explained it was the boundary wall that we had constructed only a year or so previously. As you can imagine I was not only surprised but alarmed, my immediate thought was that this is impossible, she must have made a mistake, we always take the greatest care in the work we carry out and only build to the highest standards. As you can imagine I needed to see the defective wall with my own eyes so without delay I called at the property the same morning.  On driving up to the property I could see the cracks and cause of the problem, this relatively new wall did indeed have several cracks going from top to bottom but also now had 20 or 30 tonnes of earth and rocks directly behind it. Our wall that had stated out life as a free standing decorative boundary wall had suddenly become of age and was now a full height retaining wall. In simple terms, the topsoil and rocks recently placed behind this wall is now pushing the wall into the road. Apparently after we had completed the work the lady employed a couple of local handy men to landscape the garden, in their wisdom they decided to raise the garden level behind this front boundary wall, their apparent reasoning for this was to make the garden less of a slope, see photographs. They therefore imported lorry loads of topsoil and rocks and filled the void behind the wall. This backfilled material is now the full height of the block work, some 1.2m.  (4 foot) and is gradually pushing the wall over, but the good news is the garden looks great. Joking aside, the cracks are not too severe at this present moment in time, the wall is taking the load admirably and in the absence of another guto fria I would expect this wall to last for two to three years, not a long time you may say but plenty of time to rectify the problem. My advice to the lady was to ask the two gentlemen to come back, remove the topsoil from behind the wall thus relieving the load, repair the wall and reshape the garden; alternatively the wall would need to be demolished and replaced with a substantial purpose built retaining wall, a very expensive exercise. I can’t help feeling sorry for this lady; she has had nothing but bad luck since she came to live in Spain and now this. We can only hope that she takes it in her stride as she has in the past and that her luck finally changes.

Lessons to be leaned from this are two fold:-

1. If you are considering building any walls in your garden or altering the garden levels, take advice from a professional. If you think that you will need a retaining wall then allow for it in your costing. A properly designed retaining wall will be more expensive to build in the short term but may work out less expensive in the long term.

2.  Have the work carried out by professionals, people who know what they are doing, there is an old saying - you get what you pay for.

John Phillips (F.I.A.S. F.A.B.E. M.I.B.C.O. F.F.B. M.R.S.H. C.M.W.O.B.O. M.B.I.M)
Construction Buena Vista

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Buena Vista Villas s.l.

Urb. Palmeria. Orba 03790

 

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0034 965 577 464 (office)

 

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